Recently two very good friends — women I have swapped many a book title with — disliked two books that I love. This was shocking to me, in a disproportionate kind of way. One book was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The other was All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Both books are Pulitzer prize winners (for Pete’s sake). And I loved both of them. When I was reading them, I couldn’t wait to return to them, whenever I had to step away to do things like work for a living and cook and sleep and bathe and listen to my kids talk.
When I finished each book I had that strange mixture of satisfied emptiness. For days after I was lonely for my friend, the book.
So, to have Susan and Fawna tell me they didn’t like these dear friends of mine. It was like a dinner party gone terribly wrong. It was like when you’ve gone on and on and on about how funny your friend Cheryl is, and Joanne finds her boring and silly. And tells you that when you ask her. It’s like when you assure your husband how much he’s going to enjoy getting together with your new friend and her husband, and he just can’t quite believe his stand on Israel and Palestine, or gluten.
I won’t be introducing About Grace, a book Doerr wrote before All the Light to Susan (I loved it too). And I won’t be suggesting Fawna spend time with Lila, (go Lila!) a book Robinson wrote after Gilead. I’ll forgive them their literary blunders, as they forgive me mine (or what they think are mine).